Mini Cheddars. Mini Cheddars. Mini Cheddars. Mini Cheddars.
It means SOMETHING. It has to, right? It’s everywhere. It’s torturing me. My life was good before Mini Cheddars. (My life was actually really bad but I don’t care.) Maybe my life would be better without Mini Cheddars. Maybe it’s the one thing weighing me down, or maybe it was there, plotting even in my earliest days. How can I know I’ve never eaten a Mini Cheddar? “They’re British or something,” I hear you saying, “and you’ve lived in America your entire life.” I don’t care. Someone smuggled a Mini Cheddar on an international flight one day and decided to poison me.
That’s the only explanation.
Tons of people get commercial jingles stuck in their head. I don’t care. This is not that. This is nothing like that. This is way worse. I am being actively conspired against. These three commercials are all connected and I will show you how.
This story begins, as many of my stories do these days, with a YouTube recommendation.
I love Richard Williams’ animation, and The Algorithm knows this about me. You might not know who he is just by name, but it’s likely you’ve seen his work on Who Framed Roger Rabbit?. Quick summary if you haven’t: it’s the genre-defining movie of cartoon characters interacting with live-action humans; it’s a lot of slapstick fun; it’s gorgeously animated. Williams was one of the greatest and most fastidious animators ever, and was brought on the project specifically because, well, he was a huge pain in the ass.
Work like that doesn’t pay for itself. Labors of love rarely do. That’s why Williams also had an eponymous animation studio, which did a lot of commercial work. From Listerine, to Heinz, to… Mini Cheddars.
It’s a pretty easy joke to advertise a cheese product with rodents. In this commercial, we’re treated to rats out at a night at the opera. Well, I have to assume a lot here – it’s really just a ballet about Mini Cheddars, where the only lyric is the phrase “Mini Cheddars” repeated over and over as a ballerina eats them.
From offstage, a rat ballerino leaps in to snatch the packet of Mini Cheddars from the ballerina, leading to a classic Richard Williams chase sequence. Williams’ most famous animation work is his chase scene from Thief and the Cobbler, and he snuck a very similar (though less technically impressive) scene in Raggedy Ann & Andy. This cheddars chase is comparatively restrained, with no checkerboard flooring or eyesearing patterns, but we still get some dramatic perspective when Rat-man runs into the background. Can you believe this guy didn’t rotoscope? Insane.
Well, I’ve got to say it: why does the rat man have a huge butt? Even bigger than the women, as far as I can tell. And they just let that hang out for everyone to see. Absolutely horrible.
Anyway, I fucking hate this commercial, and I don’t know if I’ve had a single day where it hasn’t been stuck in my head. When I wake up, Mini Cheddars. When I eat, Mini Cheddars. When I bathe, Mini Cheddars. When I sleep … Mini Fucking Cheddars.
And doesn’t it sound kind of familiar?
Nah. Mini Cheddars is the only truth I know.
Velveeta vs. Cheddar
HEY, WAIT A MINUTE, THAT’S THE SAME FUCKING SONG!
And they even say “cheddar” again. Holy fuck. The CIA is tasing me directly in my mind control programming. WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?!
This commercial shows us all the ways Velveeta is better than Cheddar: it melts better, and uh, that’s it. This is so freaking weird. Did they seriously have to make commercials just to advertise why Velveeta is better than real cheese? Well, yes, because this is the even more corporate answer to the Cheese Riddles. Notice how this features a specific brand-name product, while the Riddles hide behind the anonymity of the “National Dairy Board”.
I still don’t know how they managed to make cheddar look so disgusting here. It isn’t the best melting cheese, you want American if you want something pourable, but it’s still a damn better food than Velveeta. But frankly, neither of them look particularly edible in this commercial. That’s not great news for Velveeta, which is gussied up tremendously for this ad and still looks like horrible plastic nacho cheese sauce you’d get from the pump at your local gas station.
It’s crazy to me that they could just openly advertise this processed snot as being “better” than real cheese, because this certainly wouldn’t fly nowadays. But I wonder which came first, Velveeta commercials or the blatant cheese propaganda films.
Do you think we’ll ever go back to claiming plastic foods are better? Is this ‘organic’ bubble gonna burst? Nowadays Velveeta celebrates itself being gross and fake with its “Liquid Gold” line of commercials (done by Crispin Porter + Bogusky, who also did the edgy Burger King ads). But that just means they have to lean really far into it for a target audience of mostly goons. Will Velveeta ever be wholesome stuff for the kids again?
The worst part of this commercial is when the cheese falls on the doily. They had no reason to do that except to make me hurt.
And it’s not even about cheese this time.
What even is this song? Why does it haunt me? Why is it here, in a commercial from my childhood, long before I knew about Mini Cheddars? Are the Mini Cheddars retroactively entering my memories?
Thank goodness for YouTube comments. This song is Dance of the Hours, from the opera La Gioconda, which I have never heard of before. You might have heard it as the parody song “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh” by Allan Sherman, which I have also never heard of before. I guess this specific commercial is a parody of that parody, making this a veritable matryoshka of pain invented to torment me.
This commercial is about a puppy thanking his parents for sending him K9 Advantix so that he can go camping without being bothered by insects. It’s a really cute ad, if you like watching puppies play around in the dirt. Who doesn’t like puppies?
Hey, does the dog look kind of familiar? That’s because this was animated by Rhythm & Hues, who also did the animated talking animals in Babe, Stuart Little, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Cats & Dogs, Scooby-Doo: The Movie, The Cat in the Hat, Garfield: The Movie, The Chronicles of Narnia, Happy Feet, Charlotte’s Web, Alvin and the Chipmunks, and The Golden Compass. That’s right, it looks like every animated talking animal film I’ve ever watched, because it was all done by the same people, and they are all working against me to make me suffer.
I liked this commercial as a kid. It aired basically every commercial break on Cartoon Network in the mid-2000s, I think, which is when I was watching every episode of Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends. Maybe if my recordings didn’t have all the ad breaks cut out I’d be able to find it, even. I remember this commercial specifically because every time it said “tent pitching” I giggled, because I was a preteen and that was when penis jokes were the height of humor to me. My point being, this is tied very intricately into a specific part of my life.
And now it’s ruined. Ruined by the Mini Cheddars and the rat man with the huge ass.
I am living in a fucking hell. I have not known peace since the Mini Cheddars entered my life. When my guard is down, I catch myself singing it. I have a fun spin on it, it’s me singing ‘ticko ticko’, like the Bowie Parrot but instead it’s Mini Cheddars, because I love the Bowie Parrot and I cannot stop myself from poisoning the things I love. Maybe this was the plan all along. Now my spouse Paula sings it too. I catch my friend Lucas referencing it sometimes. Mini Cheddars. Lucas likes the K9 Advantix ad too. Of course he does, it’s a puppy, everyone loves puppies. No, he’s clearly in on it. He brought the Mini Cheddars into my life. Or I brought them into his. There is a weak point in the foundation of my life where the Mini Cheddars entered and changed things. There was a pre-Mini Cheddars portion of my life. I want to go back.
The rat man knows something I don’t. I look at him and I swear he looks back at me, taunting. He hasn’t appeared in my dreams yet but I know he’ll be there one day and I don’t know what he’ll say and I’m terrified. I can see him in my mind’s eye right now. He’s feeding the Mini Cheddars to the dog. “But wait,” I cry out. “Make it with Velveeta, it cooks better.” Yes. Now it’s Mini Velveetas. This is the world I live in now. Did you know I fucking hate Velveeta? I used to like Velveeta. This is it. This is the point where I cross back into my pro-Velveeta timeline, where I have watched the opera La Gioconda and I can spell it on command and I don’t have to copy-paste it from earlier in the article, and “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh” is my favorite novelty song. Do I listen to a lot of novelty songs in this timeline?
Are things bad over there too? Are things even worse? Does world peace exist, in the Mini Velveetas timeline? How do you even make Velveeta into a cracker? I’m scared. Mini Cheddars. Mini Cheddars. Mini Cheddars.